Working in a recognized profession, dental hygienists play the role of both oral hygiene practitioners and educators. They work alongside dentists, applying preventive, educational and therapeutic measures aimed at preventing oral disease. They also promote good oral hygiene to both individuals and groups.
Their work mainly involves taking dental X-rays, descaling and polishing teeth as well as performing other duties or administering other types of care, as permitted by the law.
As part of the program, dental hygienists receive training in sociology, psychology and biology, and learn the basics of good nutrition. They also learn about the different materials used in dentistry and take part in various laboratories, specifically with relation to radiology and dental hygiene. Dental hygienists must be friendly, exercise tact, be in good health and get along with their colleagues. They must also have highly developed fine motor skills and good vision. Given the existence of multiple prevention programs and the fact that children receive certain forms of dental care free of charge, dental hygienists are called upon to educate and care for a very broad clientele in CLSCs, hospitals and private dental practices. To practise their profession, those who hold a DEC in Dental Hygiene must become members of the Ordre des hygiénistes dentaires du Québec.